Women’s amateur champion growing the game

Carla Odnokon is helping lead the way with junior lessons at the SGCC.

Saskatoon’s Carla Odnokon is going into the 2019 season as the reigning Saskatchewan amateur women’s champion but her focus for now is on growing the game.

Admittingly Odnokon said she hasn’t played much golf herself this year yet, but she’s been out to the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club (SGCC) on a weekly basis working with juniors in a newly formed “league” based program. Over the winter Odnokon discussed the idea of the junior lessons and expanding beyond simply that with SGCC general manager McLaren Taylor.

“We wanted to somehow mirror what other youth sports were doing. In golf what you see a lot of is you do five or six lessons in the spring and then that’s it,” she explained to Golf Saskatchewan. “We’re trying to get more into the idea of here’s how to play the game and here’s you playing the game and getting back to the golf course regularly.”

The program has started with their lessons but once June and July roll around the kids will be broken up into teams and a few times per month they will play rounds of golf with different formats. Another feature of the SGCC’s junior program is the course is bringing in several different professionals to teach the students and keep the lessons fresh and fun.

“Back when I was playing juniors we got to see a lot of different pros,” Odnokon said. ‘Often times they’d have a weekend event with about ten pros there and so you’d get to learn about them and say, hey I work really well with this person. We’re trying to do a little of that and have different pros work with the kids, there’s nothing but excitement.”

At last count the program had upwards of 80 kids registered. Of that total, 15 of them are junior girl golfers. Odnokon said that has her beyond optimistic for today, and the future.

“I’m so excited, my goal was eight,” she beamed. “With the girls they have the option to just take the lessons and I think some are doing that but the ones that will compete, I hate using that term, but as part of the team portion we have 10 to 12 girls. The fun thing is, they come bouncing out, they all know each other, they are killing themselves laughing and having a hoot. If they grow themselves to maybe 20 next year, so on and so forth that’s all that matters.”

Odnokon’s personal season is now underway, she participated in the Moon Lake Golf and Country Club’s Ladies Classic this past weekend. [We will have results posted later Tuesday] She will also take part in the Scotia Wealth Open at the Evergreen Golf Course in Nipawin this upcoming weekend. The Scotia Wealth is the third stop on the men’s Order of Merit Tour. Odnokon said organizer Dean Prosky invited her to play after her amateur win last year at Harbor Golf Club and Resort. Odnokon said she has no expectations going into the event but hopes it can leave a mark in years to come.

“Why not? I said to Dean, yeah I will come play. I don’t want to say I will represent by any stretch because that won’t be what it is but when you look at these girls off playing college golf there is a gap in regard to the amount of competition so maybe this is something they open up a bit more regularly. That would be awesome,” she said.